The Motorola One Action is possibly the best phone Motorola has launched in a while. It looks stylish, has a great Action camera and an amazing display – all of Rs 13,999. Is the best one under Rs 15,000?
- The Motorola One Action is priced at Rs 13,999 in India.
- There’s only one variant of the Motorola One Action with 4GB RAM and 128GB storage.
- The One Action is one of the best phones under Rs 15,000 you can buy today.
A few months ago, when Motorola launched the One Vision in India, it managed to impress quite a lot of smartphone enthusiasts. In a sea of phones that were doing the same thing again and again, Motorola brought something different and fresh. And nor did it only looked good, it came across a fairly practical smartphone. However, for Rs 20,000, it seemed a bit overpriced and hence, the Realmes and Xiaomis in the same category kept doing good numbers while the quirky Motorola lost its recognition.
That said, the One series is still doing better than the other phones Motorola makes and hence, in a bid to capitalise on this, Motorola launched the One Action, which is another Android One phone. As the name suggests, the One Action is meant for those who like to shoot a lot of videos. And with Motorola borrowing a lot from the One Vision for the One Action, it seems that someone in Motorola has suddenly found a recipe that could work in the highly competitive Indian market.
And it only gets better, as the One Action carries an eyebrow-raising price of Rs 13,999 in India, which makes it well within the reach of its target buyers, i.e. the young YouTube and Instagram generation. And unlike its rivals that only boast of the same old performance or still camera performance as USP, Motorola is boldly saying it wants to cater to people who love shooting a lot of videos.
Is this is a wise USP to have in a market for a sub-Rs 15,000 phone in 2019? And does it have what it takes to challenge the likes of Redmi Note 7 Pro, Realme 5 Pro and Xiaomi Mi A3?ADVERTISEMENT
Motorola has cracked a hot design for its One series phones
When the One Vision came out earlier this month, I found it to be one of the coolest looking phones in the market. The tall yet narrow shape of the One Vision was fresh and unique, and with the glass body as well as the stunning gradient, it made the One Vision one of the best looking phones I have seen in the affordable segments.
The One Action gladly gets the same treatment. It has the same tall and narrow shape as well as the same design. Okay, not exactly the same design as instead of the dual cameras on the One Vision, there’s a triple rear camera setup. But apart from this, these two phones are almost identical looking.
But it only gets better with the One Action. In order to cut costs, Motorola skipped the glass body and instead stuck to glossy plastic that looks like glass. Don’t rubbish it yet, the plastic body is finished well enough that many of my friends mistook it for glass. And on the Denim Blue colour variant that I was using, the mild reflective gradients showed different shades of dark blue. I personally prefer the white variant that looks more premium.
And thanks to the plastic body, the One Action is quite light at 176 grams. That coupled with the slim body as well as the curved edges on the rear makes the One Action a very comfortable single-handed phone to use. The tall screen means you will have to use two hands to reach it but with the cool Motorola gestures, life is easy with the One Action.
Some of the other convenient touches such as the 3.5mm headphone jack and the traditional capacitive fingerprint sensor are present. And yes, the fingerprint sensor retains the cool Motorola batwing logo (this is geek paradise).
All-in-all, the Motorola One Action is, in my opinion, the most handsome phone under Rs 15,000, followed by the Xiaomi Mi A3 and the Redmi Note 7 Pro.
A display for cinema lovers
One of the prime reasons why the One Action has the tall and narrow design is the wide 21:9 CinemaVision display. We saw this display on the One Vision and it proved to be great for watching movies or videos. On the One Action, it only becomes better, given that you get a widescreen for less than Rs 13,000.
Unlike some of its rivals, the One Action is still using an LCD screen and while that may sound old on paper, the display in the real world is very good. The colours are vibrant with good contrasts and wide viewing angles. The LCD screen also tends to be quite bright outdoors, thereby making the brightness slider mostly useless.
At 6.3-inches, the Full HD+ screen is sharp despite the big screen real estate. I won’t say the bezels are thin but they aren’t distractive. Even the chin is quite slim for a phone of its class. The One Action is also the only phone under Rs 15k to get a hole-punch cutout for the front camera but it’s not exactly as small as you see on more expensive phones.ADVERTISEMENT
The hole is big and it takes time to get used to it. And since Android 9 Pie wasn’t built to cope up with holes in the screen, some apps tend to lose buttons or text to it. And if the video or the game isn’t optimized for a 21:9 display, be ready for some thick black bars. It’s still better than the notch and since it sits in the corner, watching videos on this display is as immersive as it gets on an affordable smartphone. In fact, once you get used to the 21:9 format, it’s difficult to adapt to the conventional 19:9 screens.
Rounding it up, the One Action offers the best display in a sub-Rs 15,000 phone for consuming content.
A Samsung heart and Google’s soul makes for a smooth experience
When I said that the One Action and One Vision are almost identical in many ways, I meant it seriously. Because tear apart the fancy body and you find the same Samsung chipset as the One Vision in the One Action. Motorola is relying on the Samsung Exynos 9609 chipset and when paired with Google’s flavour of Android, it simply comes across as the best combination of hardware and software.
Of late, I have seen some Android One phones with new Qualcomm chips and while all of them promise great performance, the lack of optimisation from the manufacturer means most Android One phones end-up lagging. In our review of the Mi A3, the phone, despite using a Snapdragon 665 chip, was mostly being jittery – far from what Android One promises. On the One Action, Motorola has optimised the OS for the chip which in the daily scheme of things doesn’t throw up stutters or lags.
This still isn’t a flagship-grade chipset and hence, you will witness a little pause before an app or a web page loads up. But I noticed this after coming from a OnePlus 7, which uses flagship-grade chips. Midrange phones have a relaxed pace of processing and keeping that in mind, the One Action is utterly smooth 96 per cent of the times — that’s not bad. I even played PUBG MOBILE on this in the high graphics settings and I didn’t feel the need to downgrade to medium settings.
Although this is an Android One phone, there are some nifty Motorola additions and all of them only add to the experience. The one-button gesture navigation is a blessing when compared to Android Pie’s weird gesture control and the Moto Display is the best iteration of an Always-On display, except that it only glows up when you pick it up or notification arrives. Motorola has also tuned the haptic feedback in a way that you will prefer to keep it switched on (there’s no bone-jarring vibration from the phone)
And while a phone may be a smooth and fast performer, it also has to stay alive for as long as possible. The One Action has essentially a one-day battery and Motorola doesn’t have lofty claims. The 3500mAh battery is just big enough for a single day’s usage and it shows. I used the One Action as my primary and over the course of a busy day, it had to go through lots of texting, phone calls, an hour of social media sessions, occasional photography, heavy music streaming and two hours of reading in Chrome.
By the end of the day, the battery meter showed around 35 per cent charge on an average, which is quite good for any phone. The efficient optimisation by Motorola and the power-efficient Exynos chip are possibly the key to this good battery life. What sucks is the slower 10W charging – come on Motorola, you could have offered the faster 15W TurboPower charging.
You don’t need 48MP cameras for impressive photos always
The One Action is primarily built for photos and videos. Motorola has been marketing crazily the Action camera on the phone. And without beating the bush, I will say that it works as advertised but it’s no GoPro beater.
The 16-megapixel ultra-wide camera on the One Action only records videos and Motorola has mounted it off-axis by 90 degrees. What this means is that you can record ultra-wide footage even when you hold the phone in portrait mode. This is genius as no manufacturer has ever thought of doing so. Hence, recording videos on the move becomes easier. I only wished that they could have allowed taking photographs in the same mode as well.
Nonetheless, the camera can shoot in Full HD resolution either 60 fps or at 30 fps in 21:9 format. In daylight, the camera works impressively, keeping the colours right as well as the sharpness just right enough. Switch on the stabilization and the accidental shakes get reduced up to a massive extent. I mounted the phone on my bike and for the most part, the camera recorded a fairly stable wide-angle footage. At night, the Action camera struggles with the exposures a bit and the stabilization takes some hit. The audio recording is also rather average. But again, for a Rs 14,000 phone, it’s acceptable. Just remember that you are not getting GoPro or iPhone levels of video recording with this thing. But under creative hands, this Action Camera can do a great job, offering a different perspective.
You can also record videos from the regular 12-megapixel camera at up to 4K resolution at 30 fps. And the video quality here is decent for an affordable phone – nothing special to write about.
When it comes to still photography, Motorola has left me surprised. The One Action’s rear camera does a great job at photography in most lighting situations. In daylight, the photos show lots of colour vibrancy with good contrast and brightness. The detail preservation is good but the lack of a 48-megapixel sensor shows as the 12-megapixel sensor loses out on finer details. Unless you are pixel peeping, that’s not much of a big deal. The portrait mode photos manage to do a fine job with the subject separation from the background and blurring but there’s room for improvement.
In low light or artificial lighting, the camera does its best to keep the photo look colourful without boosting like other Chinese phones. Therefore, your photos will look colourful and contrast-y. The camera, though, loses out on sharpness and hence, you start getting the oil-painting effect.
The 12-megapixel selfie camera is hugely impressive as well. Selfies, whether in day or night, look vibrant and sharp. The camera captures lots of details and exposures are managed efficiently. Selfie addicts will like this one.
On the whole, the One Action’s camera is surprisingly good. You can upload your wide-angle videos as well as photos on Instagram without worrying. I wish Motorola had offered the 48-megapixel Samsung sensor to get the details right but considering the price Motorola is selling it for, it’s justifiable.
After going through all the parameters in-depth, the Motorola One Action seems to have got the basics right and then some. As a smartphone, the One Action works, i.e. it is smooth and can handle daily tasks easily. The cameras are good for a phone under Rs 15,000 and the Action Camera is surely a useful thing for content creators. If you love shooting videos or vlogging, you will like the Action Camera on the One Action.
And most importantly, the One Action gets the overall user experience right at Rs 13,999. It’s comfortable to use, looks handsome and offers a smooth Android experience. Not many phones at this price manage to do that.
Do we recommend it? At Rs 13,999, you have the Xiaomi Mi A3 and based on its review, it seems suitable for those who solely want solid still photography. The Redmi Note 7 Pro and Realme 5 Pro also focus on cameras with custom experiences. On paper, all these phones come across as superior.
However, the Motorola One Action is different in many ways. No other phone in this category offers a 21:9 display with hole-punch camera cutout (it’s in fashion after all), a clean and reliable stock Android experience, handsome and comfortable design, and the Action Camera. Even for the rest of the things, the One Action is simply good. And for Rs 13,999, it is hard to find any other phone that offers this unique combination.